Bernie Sanders' Message About Bullying In Politics Calls For More Respect Among Opponents
Potential 2020 Bernie bros have been warned; the candidate won't put up with any bullying or harassment this go around. The Huffington Post reports that in an email sent to some 100 campaign surrogates on Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced the bullying and harassment of fellow Democrats — even though they're currently his opponents for the nomination.
"As we engage with our opponents in the Democratic primary, we will forcefully present our views and defend ourselves against misrepresentations," he reportedly wrote in the letter. "But, let us do our very best to engage respectfully with our Democratic opponents ― talking about the issues we are fighting for, not about personalities or past grievances. I want to be clear that I condemn bullying and harassment of any kind and in any space."
The key message throughout the email was that surrogates keep in mind that defeating Trump is the shared goal of everyone running for the nomination. Sanders went on to point out that his opponents are "decent people" and many actually friends of his from the Senate.
Sanders' camp was criticized in 2016 for some in their ranks who allegedly attacked supporters of Hillary Clinton online, often in a sexist manner. Sanders condemned such alleged abuse at the time. "I have heard about it. It's disgusting," Sanders in an interview in 2016 with CNN. "Look, we don't want that crap. We will do everything we can, and I think we have tried." With his email Saturday, he may be trying to preempt such criticism.
The Trump presidency has been marked by a new level of bullying and harassment particularly online — often coming from the commander-in-chief himself. Even after the first lady embarked on an anti-bullying campaign, Trump has gone after opponent after opponent through his Twitter account. CNN counted more than 100 people he had insulted on Twitter as of October 2018.
As for Sanders, in recent weeks he and his team have been trying to improve upon the 2016 election cycle. One big announcement was an improvement of sexual harassment prevention protocols for his campaign staff. "We are going to have the strongest protocols to protect women and anybody else against any form of harassment," Sanders told CBS News in an interview, saying there would be trainings and reporting mechanisms put in place.
Earlier in the letter, Sanders seemed to try and differentiate his team and himself from the president. "As surrogates who will be speaking on behalf of our campaign on television, radio, in newspapers and on social media we must never forget what this campaign is about and who our real opponents are," Sanders reportedly wrote. "They are the most dangerous president in modern American history and the powerful special interests who back his agenda."
But parts could also have been responding to a recent article in The New York Times about his outreach to African Americans in 2016, with some former staffers suggesting that not enough resources were invested.
In the email, Sanders focused on diversity. Making a comparison with Trump, Sanders said he wanted to bring people together. "Men and women, black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, young and old, native born and immigrant," he wrote.
Sanders' team appears to have learned from 2016, and is hard at work to start the 2020 race with a clean slate.